Thursday, December 6, 2018

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Federal court reinstates former school teacher’s false arrest lawsuit

NEW YORK – The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has reinstated a false arrest and malicious prosecution lawsuit filed by a former Orange AHRC teacher who was arrested by Wallkill Town Police for endangering the welfare of a child. The case arose from the classroom supervision by teacher Sharon Pehush of a three-year-old special needs child.

The school called police alleging Pehush had abused the girl by placing her in the corner of the classroom with a divider on the desk, prevented her from seeing the other children; allowing the child to eat lunch 45 minutes to an hour after the other children; cancelling the child’s session with a speech therapist; not allowing the child to go to gym class; and keeping her in a wet diaper for an extended period.

The federal district court in New York granted the investigating officer, Detective Julia Ashworth, qualified immunity on the basis that she had arguable probable cause to make the arrest.

Pehush’s attorney, Stephen Bergstein, said the appeals court saw the case differently.

“What the Court of Appeals says was a jury could reject that,” Bergstein noted. “A jury can find that Sharon didn’t do anything wrong and she did not deserve to be arrested for endangering the welfare of a child. She has enough evidence to win the case, is what the Court of Appeals said.”

Pehush was fired from her teaching job after being arrested and has not be able to secure another classroom post since then, said Bergstein, who said “a false arrest can have serious consequences, and it did so here.”

 


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